When the first settlers set foot in North America there was no cattle. They introduced the animal and it thrived on the lush meadows of the landscape.
Indians hunted buffalo which provided not only meat but also leather and everything else they needed.
For a long time ground beef was the predominant source of protein in North America, but unfortunately it has now been replaced by “manufactured chicken”.
Yet, marketers still try to revive the fortunes of beef. This is a multi billion dollar industry, or should I say was, as it covers many aspects of production starting with cattle ranchers, auction houses, transportation companies, slaughter houses, wholesalers, specialized meat packers, and retailers.
Of course, cattle feed producers, veterinarians and researchers also play an important role in this food chain.
A beef carcass consists of tender, semi-tender, and tough cuts. Sirloin, tenderloin, top sirloin, and ribs are the most tender, the chuck, round, legs and other parts require breaking down the tough muscles by marinating, a combination of ingredients, and various cooking techniques.
Tough cuts taste better, if cooked properly, and have more flavour. The more muscles are exercised the more flavourful the meat becomes, but the tougher it becomes.
One way of tenderizing meat is breaking it down by mechanical means, i.e grinding.
Nutritionally there is no difference between ground meat and tenderloin except for fat content.
Most ground meat consists of trimmings from a range of cuts – flank, brisket plate, round and chuck. Ground meat can be extra lean, lean, medium, or regular, pending fat content.
Some ground meat is produced using one cut only i.e. chuck, round, sirloin which tastes better.
Terms such as Angus, Kobe, Hereford, and Wagyu refer to cattle breeds. Ground beef marketed by cattle breed must contain a minimum of 51 per cent of the breed indicated, but often it is more. The taste of different breeds changes, and so does the texture, even though the meat is ground.
Extra lean or lean ground sirloin may contain anywhere from 10 – 17 percent fat, and is good for burgers and casseroles. Extra lean or lean ground chuck (10 – 17 per cent fat) can be successfully used for meatballs, to flavour vegetable stews, sauces, and for flavourful burgers.
Ground round (maximum fat 10 per cent) is good for meat loaves, stuffing vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, Savoy cabbage leaves.
Medium ground (maximum fat 23 per cent) and regular (30 per cent) is fine for broiling before using it to incorporate into a recipe.
Ground beef is economical, but it must be purchased from butcher shops that are owned and managed by professionals producing small quantities in a meticulously clean location and using super-clean grinders.
The more the meat cut is handled, the more it accumulates pathogens.
Wines to go with game meat. (click on game)